'We are paying for a service we are absolutely not getting' - University students from Northampton react to not returning to lectures until at least February

Northamptonshire readers have been debating whether or not students in the county should have to pay the same tuition fees for a slimmed down service.

By Carly Roberts
Monday, 11th January 2021, 4:49 pm

Students enrolled at the University of Northampton are being asked not to return to the town until mid-February due to the most recent national lockdown - despite most of them still paying over £9,000 a year in tuition fees.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced the third lockdown on Monday (January 4), which includes closing schools and universities to most students.

Most university courses will be taught online, however there are exceptions for some courses that require face-to-face teaching.

The University of Northampton is urging its students to stay at home to study, if they can, until mid-February. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds.

Rhianna Conway said it is not a fair system: "No it is not fair. We are paying for a service we are absolutely not getting. I’m sorry but the argument of ‘university students never paying it back’ is absolutely unjust. What about those students that actually do pay it back? At the end of the day that student is still liable for that debt.

"A debt which is unfair given the current circumstances that we are paying full price for a service we aren't getting and accomodation we can't use. And, in any other setting the goods and services act would be giving partial refunds also.

"Not to mention our student nurses who are on the front line of this god awful pandemic and are having to pay for the privilege. Having to pay to be exposed to Covid and having to pay to come home from their placements absolutely exhausted mentally and physically. This cannot continue to be ignored."

Government guidance states that students studying courses such as medicine and dentistry, veterinary science, education, social work and subjects allied to medicine and health can resume in-person teaching.

Natalie Shilcock started her nursing degree at the University of Northampton in April 20, during the beginning of the first lockdown.

She said: "I have to say, the lecturers have been fantastic at supporting us through it. We have been able to go to university for clinical skills and our next placement is online but what can we do?

"If the government are willing to pay the extra fees that have been deducted from students then fine but the universities shouldn't have to suffer financially, they are just following Government guidelines."

On Wednesday (January 6) a petition was set up calling for UK university tuition fees to be slashed by two-thirds, which has received more than 263,000 signatures.

The online appeal is urging the Government to reduce the annual cost paid by most British university students from £9,250 to £3,000.

Xavier Caspall said: "I think it's ridiculous that university students have had to pay full whack for so little, the Government should be covering the cost.

"Universities still need the money and are likely to suffer big losses when you factor in the loss of overseas students fees, whom I believe pay significantly more in fees; it won't be long before universities are in serious financial trouble."

Katie Sherwin said: "As the parent of a young adult currently in her second year at university (not at Northampton, I must add) and having studied via The Open University myself, I can categorically say that it is absolutely unfair if they continue to be expected to pay the same tuition fees - not even to mention the continued rent payments for houses they aren’t/can’t live in, but are still required to pay for.

"The Open University was designed to deliver online, distance learning and is an excellent, well-designed platform to do so. Traditional brick universities were, obviously, not."